PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The NJCAA announced Monday they would be canceling spring sports and the national basketball tournaments due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Last week, the NJCAA said they would be putting sports on hold until April 3rd and then reassess at that time, but the CDC said Monday that gatherings of 50 people or more in the U.S. should eb canceled or postponed in the next eight weeks.
This affects the Gulf Coast men’s and women’s basketball teams who were set to compete in the national tournaments this year.
The men were heading to Hutchinson for the first time in 48 years. The women set to go once again to the national tournament, but this year was extra special as it was head coach Roonie Scovel’s final season with the team.
“We fully expected this was going to be the decision and our reaction obviously is sad for the two teams going to the national tournament. It’s sad cause those players will not get the opportunity to participate in that,” Gulf Coast athletic director and head baseball coach Mike Kandler said. “Of course, our spring sports are canceled and that’s sad as well. But in lieu of everything that is going on, I don’t think any other choice could be made.”
The NJCAA also announced that no spring sport student-athletes who were enrolled at a member college in 2020 will be charged a year of participation.
Kandler said this was the right thing for the NJCAA to do, but brings up other questions for how to handle more athletes in the system.
“The problem that it presents is the logjam of athlete,” Kandler said. “The seniors are still at schools, sophomores theroetically could come back to Junior College but a lot of them have their AA degree already so you would be slowing them down. It’s going to logjam the pipeline of how the system will work so we will have to see how that plays out.”
The NJCAA said they are looking into allowing more Letters of Intent for spring sports for both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
Along with the cancellation of competition, all on and off-campus recruiting for all sports will be halted until April 15.